Stalking Prospective Students the Not-So-Creepy Way

May 10, 2016

Stalking Prospective Students the Not-So-Creepy Way

tag creative design | google analytics | higher ed landing pages | higher education
Stalking Prospective Students the Not-So-Creepy Way

So you’ve decided that paid search is the next big way to increase your pool of prospective students. You’ve done a little bit of research and “know” what they are searching for and how “big” the market is. Perfect…well…not completely perfect. Let’s look at some stats.

Prospective Students Use Social Media to Research Schools

Where else is your demographic on the web? Where else do they frequent? What else are they interested in besides trying to figure out where to go to college and what to do for the rest of their lives?

Today we’re going to take a look at the best ways to get your university in front of as many prospective students as possible. This may get a little technical, maybe not, but if you get lost on a point or two just shoot us an email and we’ll help you any way we can.

Paid Search

You should definitely dive into the realm of paid search to increase your potential student pool. Do the heavy lifting. Research keywords that match up with your demographics. If you’re looking to increase admissions for a PhD in Mathematics or you want to drive more students to an EMBA info session, paid search is a great start to targeting prospective students. It’s definitely not the end-all-be-all of marketing like it was 5-10 years ago. Now that there are so many different social channels and niche sites, a Google search is just one stop on a student’s journey to choosing a university.

Now that you’ve found your keyword targets, written your ads, and decided on the perfect landing page, you can start optimizing everything to improve your click through rates, bounce rates, and conversion rates. That’s a lot of rates!?! Yes, but all of your hard work will pay off in the end. Even if you can’t seem to affect your conversion rate, you don’t have to lose that user to the nethers of the Internet. Here is where the magic happens. 🙂

Retargeting Your Audience

Now you have paid search traffic rolling in, some are converting, but a lot of them are leaving with little or no interaction with your content. Weak sauce. Never fear! Retargeting is here! If you’ve never heard of retargeting (or remarketing) you’ve probably been retargeted before. Here’s how it works:

How Retargeting Works

You can show ads to users who have visited your site no matter where they go on the internet. You can also segment users into various groups that can be targeted with more specific ads that drives them back to convert. It’s a beautiful thing.

Retargeting & remarketing can be handled through your Google Analytics and Adwords accounts. Turning on Audience data collection within Google Analytics is the first step. Then making sure your accounts are linked together. Boom! Now you are ready to create display ads and retarget prospective students. There are a few optimization steps I would recommend you take, but that’s a completely different post.

The next question on your mind is probably: “Can I retarget a student on Facebook?” And the answer is…Absolutely! And on Instagram 🙂

Facebook & Instagram Ads

I’m sure you’ve seen both great ads and horrible, annoying ads on Facebook. It’s the nature of the beast. Creating beautiful ads for both the desktop news feed and mobile app is key to improving engagement and driving users to your site. Retargeting the students who have already been to your site and seen targeted content is even simplier! By placing the Facebook Pixel on your site you are able to track and collect users to display targeted ads, not only on Facebook, but on Instagram as well. Both ad networks are controlled through Facebook Ads.

I’m not saying it’s so simple a child could target potential students. It isn’t. With the right set of tools, you can do anything—even target down to a single person based on their likes and habits. Get creative when creating your ads and demographic target groups.

In Conclusion

Keeping your university’s brand in front of prospective students through paid search and social gives you somewhat of an unfair advantage to the competition. But that’s the point, isn’t it? Just remember that it’s not a “set it and forget” kind of campaign. There is plenty of tweaking and analyzing to be done…constantly. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 10 years of online marketing, it’s that change is inevitable. There is always something to tweak and improve. If you don’t stay ahead of the curve, you’ll be left behind wondering what went wrong. You can do it!

Tell Us What You Think

Are paid search, retargeting, and paid social part of your higher ed marketing strategy? What have you found to be most effective? Share your experience in the comments.